ISBN: : 9780957480766
Publisher: Hertfordshire Press
The book chronicles not only the birth of an independent sovereign nation, The Kyrgyz Republic, and its struggle to come to terms with forced separation from its communist parent, the former Soviet Union, a foundling seeking to establish a new governmental constitution based on democratic principles and a quest for a national identity, but also the trials (at times literally!) of a businessman with a vision to see opportunities, with the bravery of his own conviction to invest considerable sums of money in a country at a time of great uncertainty economically. It’s a story of love and hate, success and despair. But mostly of love for this smallest of Central Asian countries and loathing for those elite power brokers who have, through their selfish and avaricious actions, stalled socio-economic development, foreign investment and impoverished their own people, materially, educationally, and health-wise. We read how the Hotel Kyrgyzstan became the Regency Hyatt, a landmark 5-star hotel in the center of Bishkek. How ZUM became the largest department store in town, the creation of the only independent English language newspaper to be distributed throughout Central Asia, and the ownership and loss of the Kyrgyz Credit Bank. We also read how the corrupt powerful elite (suspected members of the Bakiyev clan) orchestrated criminal charges against the author in an effort to illegally seize ZUM through trumped-up charges of tax evasion, whereupon Mr. Fiacconi was imprisoned in the city jail on at least two occasions. There are personal viewpoints of events leading up to the two violent regime changes, the ethnic clashes in the South, and corruption from the petty to the grand. For me, the star chapter has to be the “Gold Scandal”. It’s this story that has to make this book a must-read. Between 1991 and 1993 there were 16 tons of gold in the National Bank, and 14 tons, worth about $2 billion, disappeared and there are no official records as to where the gold went!
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